The Craxford Family Magazine Purple Pages

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Page 3: The Craxfords of London

Pentonville, Uxbridge and beyond

Uxbridge High Street

Uxbridge High Street (about 1905)


Alan Craxford, Site Administrator

The thrust of the PURPLE pages has always been to document and explain the tangled interrelationships of the strands of the Craxford family within the city of London. The drift south from the gentle rolling pastures of Northamptonshire began, as far as we can tell, in the middle of the eighteenth century but the stimulus to exchange the rural lifestyle for an urban one is not known. It was probably multifactorial, coinciding with the spread of the Industrial Revolution and the desire of a young man to strike out and seek his fortune.

Teasing out these family branches has been a slow and, at times, tedious business; made more frustrating by the paucity of available and definitive records before about 1820 and the obfuscation and confusion caused by changes of spelling of surnames. We documented one prime example of this in the articles on page two of this section when we examined the generations of the Craxford family involved with the Britannia Theatre in Hoxton, north London.

In the last twelve months, two new major sources of genealogical data have become available. Firstly, the resources of the London Metropolitan Archives include the London Parish Records from about 1538 to 1920 and the London Poor Law (workhouse) Records between 1834 and 1940. Secondly, the National Probate Calendar gives access to Wills and Letters of Administration proved between 1861 and 1966. It has been both surprising and rewarding to find just one single item of information from these sources which has unblocked a previous research brick wall.


The two branches of the Craxford family whose stories are presented here appear, at first glance, to have little in common. At closest, they were no more than third cousins. They were drawn from separate villages, albeit only eight miles apart. However, they shared in the drive to the capital and each in their way provide links to the rest of the family tree. Each, too, had left a distinctive mark in the records to pique the curiosity of future researchers.

Time and again, we found a reference to Suffolk Street on birth and death certificates and in census returns throughout the nineteenth century. Confusingly described as being in Pentonville, Islington and Clerkenwell, it took some time to determine where this street actually lay and ultimately to discover that it no longer existed! It was a hapstance of marriage that led the family to the street in the first place and then a premature death to allow the family to take control of a business.

The Craxfords lived in Suffolk Street for 70 years and succeeding generations were associated with the greengrocery trade for nearly 140 years. Along the way, we have been able to follow the development and spread of the northern boundaries of the capital. We have also learned that several urban planning ideas (the ring road, the suburban community) are in reality over 200 years old.

When the Pentonville stories were published (2010) we believed that our research into the greengrocery business was complete. We were aware of the Hughes family through marriage but had no idea where they had come from. We knew, too, that one of the Hughes daughters had married into the Shardalow family. However, our enquiries into these other families faltered as both lines seemed to peter out leaving no obvious record.

Our research papers lay fallow but we know from experience that files should never be declared closed. It came as a surprise when Cliff Shardalow got in touch asking why we had one of his ancestors in our database. It appeared that we had been looking at the same brick wall but from opposite sides. A pooling of our knowledge with that from other Shardalow family members soon laid open another whole branch of the extended tree - and remarkably traced the history of another multi-generational greengrocery business, this time in Paddington.

Every story has its high and low points but the tragedies recounted within deserve special remembrance.

Guild of One-Name Studies web site THE GUILD OF ONE-NAME STUDIES
Added January 1st 2013
Shardalow (and variants) has been registered with the Guild. We will be happy to respond to any queries this may produce.


Uxbridge? Why Uxbridge? This west London town cropped up unexpectedly on several occasions during examination of the registration indexes around the turn of the last century. David Craxford was nearly 90 years old when he died before the outbreak of the first World War. It has been a long journey to trace him and three of his kin from Cottingham through the London Borough of Southwark to their final resting place in west London. In doing do, we found a family that spread apart but remained in contact with each other, drew back together again with advancing years, endured a tragedy, a scandal (or two) and an adherence to the nonconformist tradition.

... And so we come to the introduction of another surname, the bearers of which have entangled with members of the Craxford family over several generations. It is a curiosity that a brother and a sister should have married people with the same surname who were not related. Although one Cox family was from Devon, the rest were from Northamptonshire and two of them came together in London. Our investigations for the stories on these pages have found at least five different Cox lines that we have been unable to join. We have to accept that Cox is too common and widespread a name to coalesce into a single tree, even in a town or village landscape let alone at county or country level. Records prior to the beginning of the nineteenth century remain fragmented and limited.

The life history of one son of Joseph Cox and Louisa Craxford fascinated us so much that we have given him his own page. The Rev George David Cox was trained in London and held ministries in the Midlands and the South of England. He emigrated with his family, first to Australia, and then New Zealand. We learned of the development of collegiate training for the Baptist Church in the UK and also the concept of medical emigration to the antipodes for the management of chronic pulmonary disease.

Alan D. Craxford

Added: April 8th 2011
Last update: June 24th 2013

Meet the editors

Phillipa A. Andrew

Phillipa Andrew, Associate Editor

I am an Australian in-law of the New Zealand Andrew-Cox family: I married a grandson of Isaac Andrew and Edith Alice (nee Cox). We met as post-graduate students in Canberra, ACT, Australia, then settled in Victoria, Australia to continue our careers. Although I am not a direct member of the family myself, my children and grandchildren are direct descendants of Isaac and Alice, the name by which she was known.

My own background is English-Australian. My mother was born in Bristol, England and came to Australia in 1912 as a baby. On my maternal line we are still a very small clan of only 11 members in Australia. Various branches of my fatherís family came to Australia from different English counties over a wide time period spanning the late 1830s to the mid 1880s. Unlike that of my mother, my paternal family tree in Australia is extensive.

I had an early introduction to family history by my motherís cousin, in 1973 and again in 1981. During each of these years we lived in England for a few months as my husband gained overseas work experience. I was given several family trees. These have now been expanded and up-dated and are available on the internet.

It was not until the late 1980s that my interest in family history was rekindled. A cousin on my fatherís side contacted me. He lived in a rural area. His son required information on the family for a school project. I was glad to help by searching the then limited genealogical collection in the State Library. My children were now both at university; one of my casual positions had just been terminated; soon I was due to retire from my other employment. In 1991 I joined the Genealogical Society of Victoria (GSV), to which I still belong. After a year I volunteered to be one of the many Library Assistants for the Society-something I did for the next 14 years. Gradually, since the early 1990s, much more genealogical information has been released. The format in which data was made available changed and evolved. I also learnt word processing. I have now constructed many family trees and family histories. Some are available on the internet.

I have also enjoyed and benefited by the social aspects of genealogy, both from belonging to the GSV and from linking up with my extended family. Circumstances meant that my fatherís family tended to be disjointed and dysfunctional. Many of us have welcomed the chance to get to know one another.

It was not until early 2010 that I finally began to look closely at the family of my husband and children. Several versions of the family history had been compiled in the distant past. I had some limited access to these reports. The documents were mainly about the Andrew, Batt and Godfrey families, with much less information about the Cox and Craxford families.

I also had memories of the family memorabilia from my trips to New Zealand: photos of members from earlier generations, the awards to Isaac Andrew for his prize sheep, which resulted from his skilled breeding, and books.

The set of about twelve volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was conspicuous on the bookshelf. This was the set of books given to the Reverend George Cox by his congregation at the Napier Baptist Church when he left for his placement at Oamaru on the New Zealand South Island. They are mentioned in the biography of the Reverend Cox above. When the Reverend Cox died the encyclopaedia passed to his daughter, Edith Alice. In turn, the books passed to her son, Leicester Andrew, my father-in-law, after the death of Alice; and then onto another family member in New Zealand when Leicester died. This set of books still has an honoured place in the family.

After I had revised and reformatted the Andrew-Cox-Godfrey family history I put a preliminary copy onto the internet in mid 2010. I hoped that some other members of the family might contact me. Soon afterwards I was contacted by Alan Craxford. Mainly through the persistent, untiring efforts of Alan, together we have been able to construct the biography of the Reverend George David Cox. Other branches of the Craxford family tree have also benefited from our combined research.

Phillipa A. Andrew, Australia
April 2011

Cliff Shardalow

Cliff Shardalow, Associate Editor

I was born in Watford, 20 miles north of London, in December 1955. Having what always seemed an unusual name, I first became interested in family history in the late 1970s. A trip to the Public Records Office led me to the registration district of Loddon in the county of Norfolk. As I couldn't afford to buy certificates, I just went up there (free student train travel helped!). I wandered around Loddon churchyard, but found nothing. Then in Norwich I found the will of Martha Shardalow that led me to Norton Subcourse, not far from Loddon. Approaching the village, I asked an old chap if he knew the name and he recalled some 'old maids' who had died in the 1960s. From that point I found many Shardalows and managed to piece together the six who preceded me in the male line.

In the late 1990s I got a letter from distant cousin and amateur genealogist Gerry Langford. He had set up a one name study (registered with the Guild) and produced periodic newsletters. A few years later, my cousin, John Shardalow in Canada, set up the Shardalow website, where the newsletters and other material now reside. Meanwhile Gerry arranged a DNA test for me and a 'Shardlow' which proved we are related from as long ago as the 11th century. In 2009 we had a mini family meet up in the village of Shardlow, Derbyshire. My dad and John visited Gerry in Leicester. We stayed over and met up with my great Aunt (one of the seven remaining Shardalows) who is 100 years old in February 2013 and her daughter. Gerry had pieced together the male line back to the 11th century (with two potential links being 'probable' rather than certain) which had us in amazement.

In November 2012 I noticed a reference to Shardalows on Alan Craxford's website and requested a login. Six weeks later, Alan was on the verge of publishing the stunning article which appears in this section of the magazine. Gerry has unearthed far more than I could ever have imagined and Alan has produced a highly professional level account of our history beyond my wildest dreams. I thank them both for this.

Finally, to put my interest in context, two factors make it special. Firstly, I never knew my grandparents or any of their generation. My paternal grandfather died before I was three weeks old, the rest before or shortly after that. I didn't meet any of them. So my minor efforts, complemented by Gerry and Alan's fantastic work, are a kind of substitute for the relationships I never had. The more I delve, the more I feel I know them.

Secondly, my research proved early that I was the last chance of the Shardalow name continuing. There are no more anywhere in the world - barring a very unlikely discovery, related or not. I've had 2 daughters (one named Martha after that will I found in Norwich) and at 57 and 'snipped' there will be no more! At the end of the day the human convention of passing surnames along the male line is in my view a bit arbitrary. As Alan has shown repeatedly in these pages, surnames change over time for a number of reasons. If you go back eight generations in the male line they spelt the name Shardelow with an 'E'. There are members of the Shardalow family in North America who have changed the middle 'A' back to an 'E'!.

My next objectives include the ongoing capture of stories from my dad. I also want to climb Mount Shardelow in the Canadian Rockies which was named after distant relative killed in France during the second World War.

Cliff Shardalow, Scotland
January 1st 2013

Feature articles

The Old Baptist Church, Melton Mowbray: Access stories of the migration to London and to New Zealand THIS LINE TERMINATES AT UXBRIDGE: Part 1: Southward Bound
Some misfortune befell Charles (whether medical or financial is not clear) towards the end of the decade and he was to spend the last eight years of his life in Poor Law Institutions.

Windsor Terrace plaque: Access stories of the migration to Uxbridge THIS LINE TERMINATES AT UXBRIDGE: Part 2: On to Uxbridge
David and Ann Craxford made the journey west to Uxbridge where it appears they found themselves in the midst of the town's decline.

: Access story of Rev George D Cox REV GEORGE D COX (1849 - 1929)
George tendered his resignation from his post in July 1886 because both he and his wife were suffering from health issues. His medical advisors had "ordered him and his family to Australia".

Alexander Cox: Access the story FROM FAXTON TO ADELAIDE
They faced seasickness, an epidemic of measles amongst the children, the birth of several babies and a number of deaths on route..

Map of Islington: Access stories of the greengrocers of Pentonville CRAXFORD AND SONS: FRUITERERS OF PENTONVILLE: Part 1: Into Islington
On December 24th 1824, middle daughter Louisa married John Hughes, a greengrocer, and set up home with him at his premises in Suffolk Street.

8 Suffolk Street: Access stories of the greengrocers of Pentonville CRAXFORD AND SONS: FRUITERERS OF PENTONVILLE: Part 2: Suffolk Street
The family took over the next door property as well and in 1895 the premises at No.7 Suffolk Street were registered as James Craxford, Corn Chandler.

Louisa Craxford: Access stories of the greengrocers of Paddington PADDINGTON GREENS: Part 1: John Hughes Legacy
It is also possible that Louisa took the opportunity to introduce Albert to his cousin and to encourage him to work for William in his greengrocery shop.

Albert G Shardalow: Access stories of the greengrocers of Paddington PADDINGTON GREENS: Part 2: The Shardalow Inheritance
In the early hours of May 11th 1941, a stick of high explosive bombs fell across Paddington and Maida Vale. One struck the BBC studios in Delaware Road. Another scored a direct hit on 25 Delamere Crescent.

Meet the editors (cont from col.2.)

Rob Walker

Rob Walker, Associate Editor

Having reached a metaphorical 'brick wall' with research on my wife's (Gillian) Cox ancestors from Northamptonshire I decided in February 2011 to carefully re-examine a letter from 1904 by a George D Cox, a Baptist Minister in New Zealand, who had written to a grand (great) uncle of Gillian's in Adelaide, in which he was trying to contact Cox relatives of his father. How Gillianís side of the family came to have the actual letter is another matter altogether and now in the mists of time. Nonetheless while some facts were identifiable in the letter itself, it was handwritten notes on the reverse, made by the said grand uncle, that set in motion a series of searches of the 1891 UK census. As a result a Samuel Cox was found who had origins in Faxton, Northamptonshire so something was starting to fall into place. A collection of brothers were found all of whom had a common origin and their father was Richard Cox.

George's (of the 1904 letter) father was Joseph Cox, a brother of Charles, Gillian's great, great grandfather, who had arrived in Adelaide in 1848. Joseph had married Louisa Craxford, that much had been gleaned from other searches, but in February 2011 I was still looking for more inspiration and other search directions to really nail the ancestors. Google proves very useful as a fallback position at times like this so when I typed in "Louisa Craxford" I literally fell into the Craxford family treasure trove. Of course I noticed Alan Craxford's name but my eyes initially zoomed onto George David Cox and his story from New Zealand by Alan Craxford and Phillipa Andrew. Hey guys, I had an actual letter from George D Cox sitting on the desk in front of me!.

Thereby the start of a paper trail between myself and Alan, mutually gathering and collecting momentous data which I guess is a familiar story for other contributors to this award winning site and its administrator.

For a number of years I had been researching my own origins from Scotland and Northern Ireland and had amassed a good collection of factual material but it wasnít until I retired from the veterinary profession in 2005 that I could legitimately 'do' family history as my major hobby. Being familiar with investigative research and databases in general I could collate this material into something akin to order and identify what I needed to look for and where I could go to look. What I didn't expect were the surprises along the way. One of my great, great grandfathers was a convict from Nottingham (1837) so I had English connections as well. More information opened up to reveal that on my mother's side ancestors came from Scotland, Kent and East Sussex and in that context a friend of mine from primary school days (50+ years) turns out to be a relative with a common link to Benenden in Kent!

As the above account shows I have recently broadened my scope to look at Gillian's ancestors more closely and find that Devon, Bristol, Kent and West Sussex as well as Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire (and the delightful village of Newton Blossomville), Bedfordshire and London as well as Counties Westmeath, Tyrone and Cork in Ireland have contributed ancestors to her tree.

Gillian and I live halfway between Sydney and Melbourne with a son (and granddaughter), and daughter (and two granddaughters) in these respective locations so in retirement we tend to spend a lot of time travelling between families.

Rob Walker,
April 2011

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